Pakistan lose openers after Sri Lanka post 222 in 1st Test

GALLE, Sri Lanka (AP) — Pakistan hit 24-for-two at stumps on Day 1 in response to Sri Lanka’s 222 opening innings total in the first Test on Saturday.

The visitors trail Sri Lanka by 198 runs with eight wickets in hand at Galle International Stadium.

Choosing to strike first, Sri Lanka’s batting slumped as they slumped to 133 in eight, but the lower order fought back to see them through to 222 on a good batting surface.

Sri Lanka were in danger of being knocked down for less than 150, but the last two wickets produced 89 runs to salvage some pride.

Dinesh Chandimal, who had a career-high 206 paces earlier this week to inspire Sri Lanka’s innings and 39-point win over Australia, came to the team’s rescue again by scoring with 76. . The former captain added 44 runs for the ninth wicket with Mahish Theekshana.

The stand was shattered when Chandimal was spectacularly caught by Yasir Shah bowling Hasan Ali. Chandimal’s 76 came in 115 deliveries with 10 fours and a six.

“They are up against five specialist bowlers, so whenever someone comes to bowl they are fresh,” Chandimal said of the disciplined Pakistani attack.

“This pitch is something between what we got for the first and second test against Australia,” he added. “When you’ve reached 30 or 40, when the ball is swaying in certain areas, it’s easier for you to get your shots. On this wicket, even when you’re installed, you can’t play with too much trust.

After Chandimal was fired, Theekshana added 45 points with No.11 Kasun Rajitha. Theekshana was the last man fired when he was taken hostage. He made 35 out of 65 deliveries with four fours and one six. It was the No.10’s career-best score in first-class cricket.

Shaheen Afridi played superbly to finish with four for 58. The left-arm fast, who fired Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne (1) cheaply, provided the breakthrough as a partnership built between Chandimal and Dhananjaya de Silva (14). His pace was too high for Sri Lanka’s batsmen as Karunaratne and de Silva dragged deliveries on their stumps.

The very next after claiming de Silva’s wicket, Shaheen had wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella caught at the ravine. As the last pair offered stubborn resistance, he was called back and he broke the stand with the first delivery of his new spell.

Yasir Shah and Hasan Ali finished with two wickets each. Leg spinner Yasir is making a comeback after injuries sidelined him since August last year.

After posting a record tally of 554 earlier in the week against Australia at the same venue, Sri Lanka’s batting failed on Saturday as they lost four wickets apiece in the opening two sessions before some fine action from behind -guard by the tail.

During the Pakistan innings, Sri Lanka got off to a good start as Kasun Rajitha trapped Imam-ul-Haq’s leg before the wicket for two.

Orthodox left-arm spinner Prabath Jayasuriya tricked Abdullah Shafique with a forehand to have his leg before the wicket for 13.

Shaheen Afridi told reporters that Pakistan could have kept Sri Lanka below 200.

“We tried to eliminate them for about 160,” he said. “But that’s the beauty of Test cricket. Chandimal played well. Tail-enders sometimes look like real drummers. We tried to knock them down but they (hung on) to make sure they hit 222.”

The two-match series has kicked off in the southern coastal city of Galle despite Sri Lanka’s economic crisis. There are severe shortages of essential items like fuel, cooking gas and medicine while there are long hours of power cuts across the island.

There were nationwide protests, which forced Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee and resign as president. With parliament due to meet next week to elect a new president, further protests are expected in the capital Colombo and cricket officials were considering the possibility of moving the second Test from Colombo to Galle.

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